I cannot figure out exactly the problem our neighbor north has against Rwanda - Kagame

By Ignatius R. Kabagambe
On 2 May 2021 at 05:16

President Paul Kagame and the Chairman of RPF Inkotanyi has stressed that Rwanda is committed to strive for peaceful coexistence to pursue development goals unhindered. To this end, Kagame said that Rwanda has good relations with four neighbors except persistent relations with one in the north.

Kagame revealed this on Saturday 1st May 2021 at the second day of the RPF extended National Executive Committee meeting held at RPF Inkotanyi headquarters in Rusororo.

Despite the fact that he lived in the country and worked with its people and leadership for long, Kagame explained that he has failed to understand the root cause of their problem with Rwanda up to now.

The President said that Rwanda shall draw emphasis on living freely, wish others peace and freedom noting that whoever ‘recklessly relates with us’, shall be dealt with in the most appropriate way.

“Therefore, to end on that note, my focus shall remain on putting a proper roof on top of our house to protect us from rain. I shall install strong burglar-proof on our doors to keep off anyone who would have intentions to invade us and disrupt our peace, or unilaterally grab our valuable possessions. If the worse came to the worst and I find the intruder already in my house, I will certainly kick you out,” he noted.

Full speech:

In winding up I would like to thank you all for your significant role in the good meeting we have had thus far. Your contribution to the discussions has been quite vital, including those who have been keenly following throughout. The rest is all good, and we should not even be repeating ourselves that often, because we have said these things and emphasized them strongly time and again that I feel enough is enough. What remains is to always scrutinize our own individual and collective performance levels with a view to improve to make sure what we agree on in such meetings is exactly what we go out and implement.

Rwanda desires only peace

Now I do not even know how much I should reiterate some of these things. See in all these matters, be it the (Genocide) reports, or the countries we are up against – the neighbors, the superpowers, others who are ordinary like us, all of them – this is my message. That one, as a country our priority is us. We desire peace in the context which allows us to continue our development path. Our objective is to live peacefully with everybody. We do not intend to be a security threat to anyone, and neither do we expect anyone from out there to be a security burden to Rwanda.

Secondly, in confronting all these challenges, to maneuver through them and live unharmed, the best approach is to look at us in the mirror internally. If someone wishes to live comfortably in their own house, free from rain, with sufficient security for their cows and granary, instead of staying awake all day and night, it is better to construct a strong home with an impenetrable wall around it. Build an unshakable house with a gate and entrance to the main house constructed in with material for burglary prevention. This will make life difficult for thieves and put off any raiders.

That is where you start from. Same thing with protection from the rain. Simply do your roofing properly with good and lasting material. That way when wind and storm come, your house will withstand these pressures.

It is for this reason that we shall look at ourselves as a people exposed to all this kind of risks. Rain, storm, thieves, all of them, if or when they come and find you weak, they will overwhelm you and take your valuable belongings or destroy them easily.

And that is where we need to start from. Building a formidable house, home, with strong doors and quality roofing so that whenever rain comes our sleep is not disturbed due to possible leakages. You can as well view your country from that perspective. Let us burglar-proof the entrances to our home, lay strong a foundation and roof the house properly. This is primary. (Sounds like Matthew 7:24-27).

Good service to Rwandans is our first line of defense

I tell you all these people, Rwandans, young and grown, including those of you who are here, starting with leaders, what we do and the way we do it is our most reliable first line of defense against the enemy. It is what comes first. No matter the lies people might peddle about, or any number of insults they hurl, and what have you, whenever what we do as a leadership is right and approved by our people, we shall always remain immune and safeguarded to a great extent. Forget those who baselessly allege that so and so is a killer who has finished people in his own country. There is always an effective way to respond to that.

You can for instance counter the accusations by saying that wait a minute – ‘let us first ask you and us this important question’: who in the first place has died from exactly which area? With this approach you might likely witness an interesting scenario like was the case with the other Human Rights Watch story which you may have heard of. Do you remember when they accused us of having killed our people? They went to the extent of issuing a cooked list of so-called victims. Some people had to go out running around the country to prove the claims, trying to find out from which place, district these people could have died and what could have been the cause of death.

All the people who HRW had alleged dead, I think the number was eleven or there about, I do not remember well, it turned out they were all alive and well. None of them even knew that they had somewhere been reported dead somehow. The lie had backfired.

Assuming these people had been found dead, that would have been unfortunate. It would have confirmed the accusations against us being killers. Probably we would have had difficult time explaining away the circumstances. That was not to be though, because it never was. Gladly the fabrications left behind an open answer for all to plainly see that nothing of the sort had ever happened.

When we were accused of killing our people, it backfired

And that was not all. Things took a turn, because now, the people initially reported dead were the ones asking tough questions like, ‘why would you expect us dead – and died of what anyways?’

That they were found to be not only alive but thriving as well, the one who told lies about it all faced strong questions from the very people who were in the first place supposed to have died, asking the liars to prove their false claims.

In the same way when anyone says Rwanda’s leadership is terribly corrupt, people embezzle public funds left, right and center, with detractors echoing the allegations, just give it time. The noise will be loudly made and for long, but in the end, we shall ask questions like: ‘what was stolen from who? What exactly happened.’ Ultimately it will wind down to sober assessments which lead us all towards the truth.

The funders will be like ‘where are the funds which we gave you say for education? We have been told that you misused the money.’ And we shall say to them – ‘please come and see where the money was spent and how. Here are the school classrooms we constructed, the teachers who were trained, and all the logistical and operational costs involved. Feel free to hold us accountable on the transparence of methods of expenditure used. Ultimately truth will be plainly uncovered, and all sides will be satisfied.

Still, to us that is not the most important aspect. What matters most is that we put the funds to proper use, period. Children went to the schools which were constructed for them, and that is all that we should care about. That is why I insist on what we must do primarily in our interest. That is Rwanda’s uniqueness. Because our challenges are different – the point I was trying to hammer down your spine yesterday – we should do things uniquely.

We are not to compare Rwanda’s problems with others

As it is, our problems are more insurmountable in comparison to the rest around the world. For that reason, it so follows that the approach to resolving them, in the face of limited resources, requires us to religiously adhere to our unique and proven methods. This must be the case if we are to ever have a chance of overcoming them and make headway. That is the way it should be. There is no way around it.

Otherwise, if you want to be like others, yet you are not, in the first place, you will have chosen to deviate from the RPF principles which have thus far served Rwanda well.

Let me end by emphasizing the point I started on – that the reason we strive for peaceful coexistence is because we want to pursue our development goals unhindered. I am happy to report that we are well with all our four neighbors except one. We used to have problems with two, but today only one remains.

Particularly let me mention the country south, Burundi precisely, and say that we are moving together on the path to reconciliation. They are serious and, on our part, we are good to go as always (applause). We are good with the Democratic Republic of Congo as well, since the differences we earlier had with them are being jointly tackled in a genuinely amicable way. And with Tanzania, we have never had issues, we live together in bilateral harmony.

The neighbor north is the one who still has a problem with us. Up to now I have failed to understand the root cause of their problem with us. I lived in that country and worked with its people and leadership for long, but still it has not helped matters in finding our way through.

Therefore, to end on that note, my focus shall remain on putting a proper roof on top of our house to protect us from rain. I shall install strong burglar-proof on our doors to keep off anyone who would have intentions to invade us and disrupt our peace, or unilaterally grab our valuable possessions. If the worse came to the worst and I find the intruder already in my house, I will certainly kick them out.

Ultimately, we shall continue to leave freely and wish others peace and freedom too.

But whoever will recklessly relate with us, we shall deal with in the most appropriate way. It is how we live and what we prepare for.

Thank you very much

Twitter: @KabagambeI

Ignatius R. Kabagambe, is the Head of Corporate Communications at the University of Rwanda (UR).

Twitter: @KabagambeI